Closed French presidential election results – live


Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron has won an emphatic victory over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election, according to preliminary estimates.

  • Macron won 65.1% of the second round vote, according to preliminary estimate by Ipsos-Sopra Steria, while Le Pen secured 34.9%
  • Hackers hit the Macron campaign with a ‘massive’ document leak on Friday night
  • Take a look at the FT’s poll tracker
  • For further coverage of the French presidential elections click here

Hello and welcome to the FT’s live coverage of the 2017 French presidential election run-off.

It has been one of the most closely watched and exciting contests in French politics for years. The preliminary result will be announced at 8pm French time, in around 45 minutes.

Ahead of the run-off, following a first round two weeks ago to determine the final two candidates, polls suggested centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron would triumph by a comfortable margin over Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front. But it will still be a nail-biting finale.

The contest has been remarkable for several reasons. It was the first time in the history of the Fifth French Republic – or since 1958 – that no candidate from a mainstream political party had made it to the second round of voting. Emmanuel Macron left the Socialist Party last year to form En Marche!, while it is only the second time a National Front candidate has made it to the run-off. The last time this happened, in 2002, voters turned out in droves to defeat candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen (father of Marine).

The great debate
Macron came out on top against Le Pen in a particularly vitriolic presidential television debate on Wednesday, according to polling.. During the showdown – which was watched by some 16.5m people – the two clashed on the euro, radical Islam, immigration and jobs.

Commentators said Mr Macron was able to remain calm and presidential in the face of a barrage of personal attacks and jibes from Ms Le Pen. A snap survey of 1,314 likely voters by polling firm Elabe showed that 63% of respondents rated Mr Macron as the winner, with 34% picking Ms Le Pen.

However the final two week campaign leg had started somewhat badly for Mr Macron. Following the first round he was widely criticised for giving a speech which critics argued smacked of triumphalism before decamping to La Rotonde, a swanky bistro, with supporters. For some observers the move called to mind Nicolas Sarkozy’s actions on becoming president in 2007, when he held a party at Fouquet’s restaurant on the Champs-Elysées. Such scenes do not play well with many ordinary voters.

Following the first round many French had taken to Twitter to express their despair at having to choose between a far-right candidate and an ex-banker, using the hashtag #SansMoiLe7Mai (without me on May 7th) to signal this discontent.

High abstention?
The abstention level in the second round is estimated to fall between 25 and 27% according to four polls published around 5pm CEST on Sunday. This is higher that abstention in the first round, which was just over 22% – not exactly a strong vote of confidence for Macron.

Figures provided by the interior ministry suggest turnout has been lower than in previous years, although observers are divided as to how this will affect the result.

Turnout was 65.3 per cent by 5pm CEST. This compared to 69.42 per cent in the first round by 5pm.

In the 2012 presidential election, turnout at this point was 71.96 per cent. It was 75.11 per cent in 2007 and 67.62 per cent in 2002.

Hack attack
Macron was the victim of a “massive and co-ordinated” hacking operation on Friday night, after hundreds of documents from his En Marche! campaign were leaked online. France’s election campaign commission warned that the documents could be mixed with false information.

Mr Macron’s campaign has previously accused Russia and its state-owned media of using hacking and fake news to interfere with the presidential race.

AFP reports that an investigation into Friday’s data leak is now underway:

First round follow-up
Less than 20 minutes to go until the preliminary results for the second round are out. But what does the first round results data tell us?

1) Le Pen dominated in the East while Macron took the West…

2) …but Le Pen had the sturdier base of support overall

Two major French news outlets have announced they will boycott the National Front’s event this evening, after several of their rivals including BuzzFeed and Politico alleged they have been barred from the event.

Le Monde and Libération say they will boycott the event in solidarity.

On the issues
With the result imminent, here’s a quick reminder of the two radically different visions that the candidates are proposing for France:

Read more on their policies here

Macron wins
The preliminary results are in: Emmanuel Macron has won, according to an estimate from Ipsos-Sopra Steria for a group of French media including France 2 television and Le Monde.

There’s no doubt about Macron’s victory: a separate estimate by Elabe for BFMTV puts Macron at 65.9% and Le Pen at 34.1%.

The estimate from Ipsos-Sopra Steria, based on a sample of 60,000 votes, says Mr Macron took 65.1% of the vote.

Macron’s stunning triumph
Mr Macron’s victory is a phenomenal achievement, FT Paris bureau chief Anne-Sylvaine Chassany writes. The 39-year-old former Rothschild banker has never before held elected office and only set up his political movement last year.

One giant leap…
Depsite Macron’s win, the National Front can celebrate its own mini victory. This is its highest share of the vote in French elections to date.

At the ready
The British government has reportedly jumped straight into congratulating France’s new president-elect.

Nevertheless the abstention rate – it is expected to hit 26 per cent – attests to a high degree of apathy among French voters, despite neither Macron nor Le Pen coming from a mainstream political party.

Le Pen concedes
French media is reporting that Le Pen has now conceded defeat

….and also from European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker:

The message says he is happy that the French have “chosen a European future”. in electing the staunchly pro-Europe Macron.

Merkel congratulates Macron
Angela Merkel has welcomed Macron’s win, reports the FT’s Stefan Wagstyl. In an uncharacteristically rapid comment on a foreign election, Steffen Seibert, her spokesman, took to Twitter:

Translation: “Hearty congratulations Emmanuel Macron, your victory is a victory for a strong united Europe and for German-French friendship”

President of the European Council Donald Tusk said the result was a triumph over the “tyranny of fake news”:

Better luck next time
Geert Wilders, the Dutch populist and leader of the far-right Party for Freedom offered commiserations to Ms Le Pen: “You will win next time – and so will I!”

‘They have voted for continuity’ – Marine Le Pen
The National Front candidate, who frequently accused her rival of being the protégé of current President François Hollande, has conceded defeat, saying on Twitter that the French had chosen their new president, and they have voted “for continuity”.

What’s in a name?
The FT’s Paris correspondent Michael Stothard suggest a rebrand for the far-right party may be on the cards…

First vs second round

Le Pen vows to transform FN

More from Le Pen:

“I want to thank the 11m French who gave me their voice and their confidence,” she said via Twitter.

She added that the second round had recalibrated French political debate “between patriots and globalists” and also pledged to begin a transformation of the FN to turn it into “a new political force”.

Nigel Farage has tweeted, saying that Macron will mean “5 more years of failure, power to the EU and open borders.”

Marine Le Pen can always try again in five years, he adds…..

What next?
This handy timetable from UBS shows that it’s not all over yet: France’s legislative elections take place in June and will impact on how Macron can govern.

An uphill struggle…
Analysts are pointing out some of the challenges a rookie Macron is going to face in office – as attention shifts towards the legislative elections in June.

Kit Nicholl, Country Risk Analyst at IHS Markit says:

To govern effectively, Macron needs the backing of a parliamentary majority (289 seats or more), but the chance of his movement being able to build one, from zero seats, appears slim.

One major challenge is that, En Marche!, has been entirely built around the candidate, Macron, and his political instincts. As a political movement, it has little to fall back on in terms of grassroots organisation and political expertise.

En Marche! will however field candidates in every electoral district and, in the most likely scenario, will constitute the largest parliamentary group but fall short of an overall majority. If this were the case, Macron’s government would be faced with constant manoeuvring in parliament to get legislation through, cobbling together different majorities for different bills.

How effective his presidency will be, therefore depends on how close he can come to a 289 seat majority.

German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel has also extended his congratulations, writes FT Berlin bureau chief Stefan Wagstyl.

Mr Gabriel said it was a “good day for Europe and for Germany” and added that Mr Macron had showed it was possible to stand up to “the opponents of Europe and the nationalists and populists.”

But in a clear attack on chancellor Angela Merkel’s austerity-led eurozone economic policies he said Germans should now support Mr Macron: “We (Germans) must now give up our financial policy orthodoxy.”

FN: renewed

Marine Le Pen is now head of the opposition in France, according to Steeve Briois, the interim head of the National Front party.

She is the only candidate who can oppose Macron’s liberal, free market, globalist policies.

FN officials also said that they planned to create more alliances with other sovereignist and nationalist figures in France to compete in the legislative elections next months, reports the FT’s Michael Stothard. They hinted that they could change the name of the party as well.

Following her defeat, Ms Le Pen said that the party, which has been dogged by its toxic extreme-right legacy, needed to be completely renewed.

The National Front … must deeply renew itself in order to rise to the historic opportunity and meet the French people’s expectations…I will propose to start this deep transformation of our movement in order to make a new political force

The relief rally cometh

State Street says Macron’s win is “enough to support a short-term relief rally”

From Timothy Graf, head of macro strategy EMEA at State Street Global Markets, and Bill Street, head of investments for EMEA at State Street Global Advisors:

It is supportive short-term news for risky assets and the euro, but given Macron’s consistent lead in second round polls throughout the campaign, gains in each are likely to be more muted than those seen two weeks ago.

Emmanuel Macron’s victory gives markets a much deserved breather from European politics.

Looking forward, Macron only offers upside surprises.

The European Jewish Congress has congratulated Mr Macron.

President Moshe Kantor said:

This was a vote for France, for the European Union and for democratic values.

Never has a major European country faced such a challenge to its most basic value system of tolerance and democracy since all of Western Europe was dominated by fascism in the Second World War.

We applaud the French people for facing this challenge with the full force of French democracy and the core values of the Republic.

During the campaign Ms Le Pen came under fire after she denied that the French state was responsible for the wartime round-up of Jews who were subsequently deported to Nazi concentration camps.

Au revoir, Hollande
Outgoing president François Hollande has told reporters that we can expect Macron to take the reins a week today

Che bello!
Paolo Gentiloni, Italy’s centre-left prime minister, welcomed Mr Macron’s victory in a tweet , saying “hope is wandering around Europe”, reports the FT’s James Politi in Rome.

His enthusiasm was matched by Matteo Renzi, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party, who has even borrowed Mr Macron’s slogan of En Marche! – In cammino in Italian – as his own political slogan. Read more about the Macron-Renzi relationship here.

The PD is facing its own struggle to rein in populist movements in Italy ahead of an election planned for 2018. Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right Northern League, which has closely aligned himself with Ms Le Pen in recent years, said thank you to her for her efforts in a Facebook post. “Who fights never loses, ” Mr Salvini said.

Macron has begun his victory speech:

“It is a big honour, and a big responsibility…thankyou, from the bottom of my heart.”

Republican salute
A composed president-elect Macron says he does not underestimate the economic difficulties France is facing and has extended a ‘Republican salute’ to National Front rival Le Pen.

The FT’s Roman Olearchyk writes that Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko, the pro-western president of a country which has been in a three-year quasi state of war with Russia, has congratulated Mr Macron via Twitter in French saying:

Congratulations to @EmmanuelMacron with a spectacular victory! Important vote of confidence of the French in a United Europe!

The Ukrainian leader, who has pledged to bring his country closer to the EU, added: “Let us count on ambitious collaboration with France and the intensification of the Normandy format!”

This is a reference to the so-called Normandy Format of international talks through which the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine in early 2015 brokered the Minsk peace accords together with Russia, but which have so far failed to bring lasting peace to the continent’s bloodiest conflict since the 1990s Balkan wars.

A new leader
In a sombre victory speech, Macron said he would bring the nation together – although he made clear he understood the “anger, doubt and anxiety” felt by some.

My responsibility over the next five years is to appease fears…give French people optimism

He added that wanted to be in the front line in the fight against terrorism.

At 39 years old, Macron is the youngest ever elected French president.

You can read the FT’s profile of him here.

Trump congratulates Macron

President Donald Trump says he is looking forward to working with the French president-elect:

You can smile now
The Twittersphere picks up on Macron’s sombre speech:

From the White House

Love France
In one of his first of a flurry of tweets as president-elect, Macron says “Let’s love France”

Translation: “Let’s love France. From tonight and for the next five years, I will serve [France] in your name with humility, with devotion, with determination.”

Euro hits highest level since US election

The euro rose 0.2 per cent against the greenback to $1.1019 in the wake of Emmanuel Macron’s victory, the highest since November 9.

Against the yen the euro is up 0.3 per cent at ¥124.29.

Marion weighs in
Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, Marine’s niece and a rising star in the National Front, blames “biased” media coverage of her aunt for the result.

Translation: Marine did a great campaign on the ground but she was also the victim of particularly unjust treatment by the media

Still with us? Here is a roundup of the best of the FT’s French coverage:

Profile of Emmanuel Macron

Profile of his wife Brigitte Macron, who the president-elect has said will have an official role

‘Neither left nor right’: What is Macron’s policy agenda for France?

The new French president faces a difficult five year term, writes Tony Barber

Gilles Kepel dissects the challenges for Mr Macron vis-à-vis evolving identities in France

The abstention rate in 2017 was fairly high – here is why, in the voices of (potential) French voters

Legislative nightmare?
A sign of the challenge ahead? Only 39% of French people want Macron to win a majority in the legislative elections in June, according to Ipsos polling.

Prime minister to be named next week
There are media reports that Macron will name his Prime Minister next Sunday when he assumes power:

France’s political system enters ‘uncharted territory’

Economic commentary so far has crystallised around two points: first, that the market reaction (of relief) is likely to be fairly muted given the expected Macron win, and second that the forthcoming parliamentary elections will prove a challenge for the president-elect.

Anna Stupnytska, global economist at Fidelity International, said:

Now attention will shift to whether President Macron will in fact be able to deliver on his relatively ambitious reform agenda. Parliamentary elections in June should give us some indication for how much reform France is likely to see over the next few years.

Macron’s En Marche! movement could struggle here, as it lacks the traditional party power base, so a range of outcomes is possible.

And from Kit Nicholl, country risk analyst at IHS Markit:

[T]the victory of a 39-year old without an established party backing and who’s never held elected office does take France’s political system into uncharted territory.

One major challenge is that, En Marche!, has been entirely built around the candidate, Macron, and his political instincts. As a political movement, it has little to fall back on in terms of grassroots organisation and political expertise.

Mapping Macron’s win
A breakdown of the results so far show Macron swept to victory across most of the communes in the south and north-west of the country, while Le Pen won large swaths of the north-east.

More congratulations
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Portugal’s centre-right president, said Emmanuel Macron’s “historic election” was a “victory for France and Europe”, writes the FT’s Peter Wise. It also represented a victory for the values of “liberty, equality and fraternity” that had made France “a beacon for innumerable Portuguese emigrants,” he said.

Meanwhile Mexico’s foreign minister Luis Videgaray tweeted a picture of him and the new president-elect, reports Jude Webber in Mexico. “Congratulations to @EmmanuelMacron, with whom I am sure we will continue to grow the friendship and closeness between France and Mexico”.

First call
Macron’s spokesperson tweets that his first call with a foreign leader was with German chancellor Angela Merkel, a possible taste of things to come. The president-elect said on the campaign trail that he wanted to reinvigorate the Franco-German relationship within Europe.

Translation: “Macron spoke briefly on the telephone to German chancellor Angela Merkel. 1st conversation with a foreign leader.”

Ode to Joy
In a distinctly un-joyous fashion, a stern Macron walks out alone to the glass pyramids of the Louvre – where he will speak shortly – with Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, the EU anthem, blaring out.

French press

As if today wasn’t jampacked enough for French journalists, there were reports earlier this evening that some outlets had not been invited to the National Front’s event, leading Le Monde and Libération to declare they would boycott it.

Here’s a look at how Macron’s win has been covered on their websites:

Le Monde goes in on a quote saying “I will defend France, its vital interests and its image.”

Le Figaro shows jubilant scenes in Paris:

And from Les Echos: “I won’t let anything stop me”.

At the Louvre
To chants of “Macron, president” that were common at his rallies, Macron has stepped out to talk against the striking Louvre pyramid.

Everyone said it was impossible…but they didn’t know France! Thank you for the risk that some of you have taken

Telling his audience not to whistle at the name of Le Pen, he says that her voters and supporters have expressed an anger and he respects that.

I will do all i can for the next five years so that they don’t have a reason to vote for extremes

Playing up the symbolism, he says that here at the Louvre “is the energy of the french people”. The Louvre “is place of all French”.

Immense task
Macron seems to keep circling back to the idea of the “immense task” that faces France, and promises to strengthen the economy.

Europe and world is waiting for France to astonish them again, to be herself – that is what we will do

Fight for the (far-)right to party!

In the FN election event in Paris, the press were expelled at 10pm and it turned into a private party. Marine Le Pen, with a smile on her face, was dancing with her staff to 90s classics, such as “Freed from Desire”, a 1996 classic by Gala.

Strength of support
Results data show Macron’s support was strongest in Western rural France, and the Basque country to the south. Judging by this map, Macron also performed well in ‘la France profonde’ – the swathe of central provincial France where it was though Le Pen could scoop up some conservative voters who supported Republican candidate François Fillon in the first round.

Me too, me too
A congratulatory tweet from Hillary Clinton – with a testy addendum. Her emails were hacked during her US presidential bid last year.

Macron and Brexit
This excerpt of an interview with Macron on Brexit from March is doing the rounds on Twitter.

We’re about to wrap up our live coverage. Here is a brief summary of what you need to know:

- Emmanuel Macron has triumphed in France’s presidential election, beating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Estimates suggest he won 66 per cent of the vote.

- The 39 year old will be the youngest ever elected French president. He has never before held elected office (although he was an economy minister under President Hollande) and only set up his political party, En Marche!, last year.

- Marine Le Pen has conceded defeat and vowed to transform her National Front party into a new political force.

- French parliamentary elections take place in June. There will be two rounds of voting with 577 seats for grabs….however, the relative youth of En Marche! Means its chance of winning a 289 seat majority is remote.

And on that note – bonne nuit et à la prochaine fois!